Monday, June 30, 2008

Summer Night Lights

When I was talking to community members in Glassell Park after last week’s gang raid, many of my constituents asked about the programs available to help prevent kids from joining gangs or to help young people who want to get out of a gang to turn their lives around. Today I joined with Mayor Villaraigosa, other city and community leaders, and 80 young people to announce the new Summer Night Lights program that will give kids a supervised place to go and a great alternative to hanging out on the streets.

Research shows that youth are most likely to commit violent crimes during the hours of 4 p.m. to midnight, and this program was designed to attract the most at-risk youth in our city and give them something fun to do. This summer, over ten city parks will offer extended night hours and educational, recreational, and artistic activities for young people. Summer Night Lights was modeled after the successful At the Park After Dark that we piloted in Glassell Park last summer.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Introducing Bike-Friendly Initiatives

Bicycles on LA Metro
Originally uploaded by CD-13
As commuters battle high gas-prices and traffic congestion this summer, Angelenos are finding alternative ways to get around town. Making alternative transit options a reality requires government, businesses, and people to work together, and so today I sponsored a resolution in council asking the MTA to stop its ban on bicycles on trains during rush hours. I will be working with the MTA to explore various options that will make their trains more bike-friendly. I also introduced a motion to create a pilot program of “sharrow” lanes on streets, that would allow bicyclists to travel more safely outside of parked car zones. Bicycling reduces traffic and air pollution, and I want to continue to make it a safe and fun alternative to driving in Los Angeles. City Council committees will review both of these initiatives in the upcoming week.

For more information, see LA Times Road Sage Steve Hymon's commentary on bicycles on the metro and sharrow lanes.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Drew-Estara neighborhood safety a big priority

This evening, about 200 people packed into our Glassell Park field office for a community meeting we sponsored with the U.S. Attorney's Office, the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office and the Los Angeles City Human Relations Commission, among others.

The purpose of the meeting was to have a debriefing for the Northeast Los Angeles community on the action taken in coordinated raids by federal and local law enforcement officials this morning against the Drew Street clique of the Avenues gang that has long-terrorized the area with violence and intimidation.

I want to give my personal thanks to the law enforcement officers that put their lives on the line this morning. Today's action was the result of months of work by LAPD, federal law enforcement officials, federal and city attorneys, community members and our office to take back the Drew-Estara neighborhood through law enforcement action, nuisance abatement proceedings, youth and community development work, and block-by-block organizing.

The Human Relations Commission moderated the meeting beautifully, taking dozens of comments and questions from the audience. Residents expressed their thanks to law enforcement officials and talked about ways to ensure that the gang would not take back the neighborhood in the future. U.S. Attorney Thomas O'Brien said today's action the largest of its kind in the city's history, and pledged to continue serving the remaining warrants and to monitor the gang's criminal actions closely for future prosecutions. Chief Sergio Diaz and Captain Murphy of Northeast Division pledged to continue to push for more arrests as well.

We know that more remains to be done.

It was clear that for today's action to have a long-term impact, it will require ongoing vigilance from law enforcement officials, community members and our office. The commitment from LAPD to have a police substation in the Drew-Estara area for a period of weeks, combined with our ongoing efforts to keep Glassell Park Recreation Center open this summer during night hours and to focus resources in the new Glassell Park-Cypress Park Gang Reduction and Youth Development Zone in partnership with the Mayor's Office are important The City Attorney's ongoing work to abate our nuisance properties and hold landlords and tenants accountable is another important pillar in that strategy. Finally, continuing to engage our parents to take responsibility for the actions of their children and the continuing work of the Aztecs Rising intervention workers at nearby schools will also contribute to growing up a generation of young people who do not turn towards a life of crime and violence.

Web of Our World teaches students about interdependence and diversity

Caring for our environment begins with educating ourselves on how we impact the planet and what we can do to make it better. With this in mind, two Council District 13 schools have launched projects that help students study nature and understand how it relates to their own neighborhoods. With the help of the Wildwoods Foundation, Mayberry and Micheltorena Elementary Schools have begun the Web of Our World project which teaches students about interdependence, sustainability, and diversity through outdoor expeditions. As part of the project, these students take field trips that allow them to see first-hand the role that they play in shaping the world around them. Upon returning, the students personally document what they have learned on the Web of the World website, where they can also access the results of field trips from other schools. Check back periodically to see what they’ve been up to most recently!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Family Fun Nights at Marsh Street Park

Families can enjoy free fun activities all summer long at Marsh Street Park in Elysian Valley. The Mountains Recreation Conservation Authority will sponsor campfire fun with story-telling, nature programs, and snacks. Programs will be held most Saturdays beginning at 7:30 pm. Click here for more information.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Honoring the Dodgers with the Award of Excellence star

As a long-time Dodgers fan, I was excited to join the Hollywood Historic Trust and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce today in unveiling the Award of Excellence star to the Dodgers in celebration of their 50th anniversary in Los Angeles. The Dodgers and Hollywood share a history, which is traditionally commemorated through the Hollywood Stars Game that began shortly after the Dodgers first moved to Los Angeles. Amidst the other stars along Hollywood Boulevard, the Dodgers make history as the first sports team to receive this honor.

Honoring the Aztec Fire Crew Graduates

Garcetti and Aztec Fire Crew
Originally uploaded by CD-13
In council this morning, I was proud to honor the 43 newest graduates of the Aztec Fire Crew program, a great example of the effective gang intervention programs in Los Angeles. These at-risk young adults have made a commitment to give back to their communities, and have already helped prevent fires through their brush-clearing efforts. They graduate from the Aztec program with valuable job skills, and have the experience they need to work alongside the LAFD in the future as professional firefighters. As Los Angeles heats up for the summer, and the risk of brush fires increases, we’ll be very grateful to these young Angelenos, who have put such hard work into keeping our neighborhoods safe!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Kicking-off Operation Splash

With schools letting out for the summer and expected high temperatures this weekend, today was the perfect day to kick-off the start of the city’s pool season. To help give more kids an opportunity to learn to swim, Kaiser Permanente is once again partnering with the city to sponsor “Operation Splash,” which will provide free swimming lessons to 8,000 kids and 700 scholarships for the junior lifeguard program. Visit the City of Los Angeles Recreation and Parks site for more information.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Shane and Monica are Wed

Shane-Monica Wedding
Photo courtesy of LAist

This morning at Los Angeles City Hall, I officiated the wedding of my friends Monica Granados and Shane Goldsmith, who met when they were both working in my office in 2004. While I also officiated the union of this couple in 2006, the state of California now recognizes the right of same-sex couples to affirm their love and commitment to each other, and Monica and Shane are now legally united under California law. I am greatly honored that Monica and Shane asked me to take part in their wedding, and proud that California has pledged to protect the equal rights of all citizens by legalizing same-sex marriage. I offer Monica and Shane my congratulations, and best wishes for their life together (photo courtesy of LAist).

Monday, June 16, 2008

Update from Saturday's LA River clean-up

Here's a video update from Saturday's LA River clean-up.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Welcoming the new Consul General of Mexico

Today, I welcomed the new Consul General of Mexico, Juan Marcos Gutierrez to Los Angeles. Consul General Gutierrez has a long history of public service, and was previously a Federal Congressman in Mexico. He was the Consul General of Mexico in Denver prior to his post here.

Los Angeles has always had a special relationship with Mexico. We share a common history and a common culture. I look forward to working with Consul General Gutierrez in the future.

Cleaning up our LA River

Tomorrow I'll be joining thousands of people to clean up our Los Angeles River. Perhaps best known as the raceway in the movie Grease, today our river is greener and cleaner and every year increasingly becomes a place where families can stroll or ride bikes while enjoying our beautiful outdoors.

Come join us at the Griffith Park Recreation Center tomorrow morning. Check out Siel's post on the Times' Emerald City blog for more information.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

San Pedro: a vital economic engine and treasured LA community

San Pedro Chamber
Originally uploaded by CD-13
Home to the Port of Los Angeles, San Pedro is a vital economic engine for not only our city, but our region and nation.

This afternoon I met with some of the neighborhood's most active business leaders and community advocates at the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce's annual luncheon. The theme of this year's event was: Building a World Class Community in a World Class City for the 21st Century. Indeed, there are a lot of exciting new projects underway in Downtown San Pedro and the area is experiencing a renaissance much like I've seen in the Hollywood area of my own Council District.

With the 466th anniversary of the naming of San Pedro coming up in November, we're reminded that Los Angeles started in San Pedro and Los Angeles continues to be sustained by San Pedro.

Good Shepherd Center opens new women's shelter

Good Shepherd
Originally uploaded by CD-13
This morning the Good Shepherd Center celebrated the grand opening of its third and final phase of their Women's Village, a shelter for homeless women, many of whom are victims of domestic violence.

Located in Historic Filipinotown, the new facility includes 21 one-bedroom, furnished apartments that will serve as transitional housing for women who have successfully completed the organization's short-term transitional program.

In addition, the new facility includes an Employment and Client Services Center that will provide job counseling, referals, and computer training. There is also a bakery where clients can develop job skills and gain hands-on experience.

It's a great addition to the neighborhood -- and one that will empower many women to get their lives back on track.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Thank you to the men and women who protect and serve

This weekend I was in San Diego for my duty in the U.S. Navy Reserve and coincidentally the Los Angeles Police Protective League was also in town for its delegates meeting. During a lunch break, I dropped by to thank the rank and file officers who protect and serve our communities every day. I will continue to work to ensure that our police department has the resources it needs to keep our neighborhoods safe, and most importantly it means that our officers have the training, equipment, and motivation needed to do their jobs well.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Hollywood community pays tribute to one of its own

John Ritter mural dedication
Originally uploaded by CD-13
This morning I helped dedicate the addition of the late actor John Ritter to the Portrait of Hollywood mural at Hollywood High School.

John graduated from Hollywood High where he served as student body president for two years (running unopposed for his second term, as his wife Amy says he often reminded his family). He went on to great success as an actor, winning an Emmy and numerous other awards.

Now, John is a permanent fixture overlooking his alma mater and the community where he got his start. I think he would have been pleased that this project in his memory was the result of collaboration between so many Hollywood High School neighbors, including the Hollywood Community Redevelopment Agency, Legacy Partners, Gatehouse Capital, and Jimmy Kimmel, whose late night talk show films across the street from the school.

Local artist Eloy Torrez painted the original mural as well as the addition.

Drive southbound on Highland between Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards and you won't be able to miss John's towering portrait.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Dwell on Design

Dwell on Design
Originally uploaded by CD-13
This morning, I spoke at the Dwell on Design conference, where architects, designers, and others gathered for a vibrant discussion of modern design issues. The conference is hosted annually by Dwell Magazine and this is the first time it is being held in Los Angeles.

This year's conference focuses on sustainability, and I was proud to talk about Los Angeles "LEEDing" the way with our new Green Building Ordinance, which requires all large construction projects in our city to meet environmental standards.

The Dwell on Design conference ends Friday, but the exhibition runs through Sunday at the Los Angeles Convention Center and features more than 200 exhibitors, including an entire neighborhood of pre-fab, landscaped and furnished homes.